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Your Ultimate Guide To Clean Pull: Proper Form, Benefits And Mistakes To Avoid

If you’re looking to enhance your athleticism and transform your workouts, consider incorporating the clean-pull exercise. Considering that you wish to improve your strength and agility, emulating the explosive and powerful movements of professional athletes can bring your fitness to a whole new level. The clean-pull is a fantastic exercise that challenges your body to move at high speeds, making it perfect for any sports enthusiast, whether you play basketball, football, or soccer. Not only does it add variety to your routine, but it also strengthens your body, boosts your athleticism, and even enhances your deadlift performance.

The clean pull is especially valuable for building strength and improving the correct movement patterns used in the clean, a key component of Olympic lifting. By mastering clean pull variations, you can become stronger in this movement and ultimately improve your clean technique.

Olympic lifting emphasizes the efficient use of power. It demands speed, agility, explosiveness, and power right from the start. With the clean pull, you get to train and refine all these traits to an exceptional degree. It serves as a valuable tool for weightlifters to enhance posture, reinforce technical accuracy, and increase overall strength.

Even if you’re not incorporating the Olympic snatch or clean and jerk in your routine, the clean-style pull can still benefit you in various ways. Whether you want to elevate your performance in other exercises or simply aim to become a more athletic version of yourself, the clean-pull exercise is a fantastic addition to your workout arsenal.

What Is A Clean Pull

The clean pull is a dynamic and powerful exercise that shares similarities with both the power clean and the deadlift. It starts from a position close to the deadlift, with an emphasis on using your hamstrings and glutes to lift the weight off the floor. However, the main difference lies in the goal and technique. While the deadlift focuses on lifting heavy weights to build strength, the clean pull challenges you to move a lighter weight as quickly as possible, aiming to generate maximum speed.

Your Ultimate Guide To Clean Pull: Proper Form, Benefits And Mistakes To Avoid

This exercise is essential for enhancing strength, speed, and power during the clean phase of weightlifting. It provides an opportunity to work with heavier weights than in the clean itself, leading to significant progress. Additionally, the clean pull can help improve pulling balance and correct angles, making it a valuable drill for learning the clean movement.

The clean pull engages a wide range of muscles across your upper and lower body, including the quads, forearms, calves, shoulders, glutes, triceps, knee tendons, and lower back. It’s a full-body workout that can contribute to improved overall strength and athleticism.

Incorporating the clean pull into your training routine can be a game-changer for boosting strength, speed, and power. It’s a challenging yet rewarding exercise that can take your weightlifting journey to new heights. Whether you’re a seasoned lifter or just starting, the clean pull offers an exciting way to refine your technique and unleash your strength potential.

How To Perform A Clean Pull

Starting Position:

  • Place the barbell over the middle of your feet, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, depending on your limb length. For larger and taller weightlifters, a wider stance may be suitable.
  • Position your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart, adjusting if needed for mobility or limb length differences.
  • When gripping the barbell, it should either touch your shins or be very close to them. Keep your arms relaxed but engage your lats and maintain a straight back.
  • To engage your lats effectively, imagine holding tennis balls under your armpits or perform straight arm pulldowns before lifting.
  • Some athletes find it helpful to have a target just above eye level to straighten their back and engage their lats. As you start the pull from the floor, focus on pushing your full foot into the ground for maximum effect.

The Pull:

  • Initiate the clean pull with a straight back and emphasize a big chest, maintaining your back angle as long as possible. This means your hips and shoulders should rise simultaneously.
  • Drive your feet into the ground, slightly pulling your knees back and out of the way until the barbell passes your knees. Throughout this phase, keep your arms relaxed and lats engaged to keep the barbell as close to your body as possible.
  • During the aggressive second pull (from knee to hip), thrust your hips forward while achieving full extension or triple extension of your ankle, knee, and hip joints.
  • As the barbell brushes the high part of your thighs or hips, aggressively shrug it up while keeping your arms relaxed and lats engaged to maintain proximity to your body.

Clean Pull Muscles Worked

he clean pull is a full-body exercise that activates muscle groups throughout your upper and lower body, including:

  • Quads: The quads are the primary movers in the clean pull. They are responsible for extending the knees and helping to lift the barbell up from the floor.
  • Forearms: The forearms are used to grip the barbell and to help stabilize the weight during the lift.
  • Calves: The calves are used to generate power from the ground during the initial pull.
  • Deltoids: The deltoids are used to help lift the barbell up to the shoulders.
  • Glutes: The glutes are used to extend the hips and help to lift the barbell up to the shoulders.
  • Triceps: The triceps are used to extend the elbows and help to lift the barbell up to the shoulders.
  • Hamstrings: The hamstrings are used to flex the knees and help to lift the barbell up to the shoulders.
  • Lower back muscles: The lower back muscles are used to stabilize the spine and to help lift the barbell up to the shoulders.

In addition to these muscles, the clean pull also engages the core muscles, such as the rectus abdominis and the obliques. These muscles help to stabilize the body during the lift and to prevent injuries.

Clean Pull Benefits

Your Ultimate Guide To Clean Pull: Proper Form, Benefits And Mistakes To Avoid

The clean pull is a highly effective exercise that offers various benefits, making it a valuable addition to your powerlifting program.

  1. Increased Explosive Power: The clean pull involves a triple extension movement, where you explosively extend your hips, knees, and ankles. This motion develops your power and force production, making it beneficial for activities like sprinting and swimming exercises. The explosive nature of the clean pull helps you generate greater power, enhancing your performance in dynamic sports and activities.
  2. Lift Heavier Weights: Incorporating clean pulls in your routine allows you to lift heavier weights compared to traditional clean exercises. The explosive movement pattern in the clean pull provides the necessary force to handle more substantial loads, enabling you to build strength and improve your overall lifting capacity.
  3. Enhanced Performance in Olympic Weightlifting: The clean pull contributes to better performance in complex Olympic weightlifting exercises, such as the power snatch and clean and jerk. By practicing clean pulls, you can enhance your balance, mobility, and coordination, which are crucial elements for mastering more intricate lifting techniques.
  4. Explosive Strength Reserve: The clean pull is a primary exercise for developing an explosive strength reserve for weightlifters. It involves a quick triple extension of the hip, knee, and ankle, which translates well to sports requiring strength, power, and vertical acceleration, including sprints, mixed martial arts, and various team sports.
  5. Prepares for Heavier Clean & Jerk Lifts: The clean pull’s resemblance to the initial phase of the clean allows athletes to build strength reserves for lifting heavier weights during the clean & jerk phase. This progressive approach helps in safely and effectively advancing in your weightlifting journey.

Clean Pull Mistakes To Avoid

Mastering the clean pull requires attention to detail and proper form. Avoiding these common mistakes will help you perform the exercise more effectively and safely:

  1. Incorrect Starting Position: Avoid starting with your shoulders behind the bar or feeling pressure on your heels. Instead, ensure your shoulders are directly over the bar, and distribute your weight evenly on your feet. This allows for maximum force generation during the pull.
  2. Jolting the Barbell: Jerking the barbell aggressively from the ground can lead to loss of back tension and slow, sluggish movements. Maintain tension on the bar before initiating the pull to avoid this mistake.
  3. Lifting Too Heavy Too Soon: Prioritize proper technique over lifting heavy weights too quickly. Focus on mastering the correct form before adding weight to the barbell.
  4. Starting Too Far Forward on Toes: Initiate the pull from the full foot rather than the toes. This ensures proper extension and prevents leaning forward during the lift.
  5. Pulling the Barbell Around the Knees: Pull the knees back during the pull rather than pulling the barbell around the knees. This maintains proper form and allows for better leg drive.
  6. Bouncing the Barbell Off the Thighs: Avoid bouncing the barbell off the thighs during the second pull. Instead, brush the barbell up the thighs while keeping it close to the body.
  7. Treating Clean Pull as Deadlift: Understand that the clean pull is not a deadlift. Focus on using leg muscles for power and energy and utilize the core and back for stabilization.
  8. Rising to Toes Too Early: Avoid rising to your toes before the barbell has wrapped around your upper thigh. Maintain contact with the full foot until the appropriate phase of the pull.
  9. Overusing Arm Muscles: The primary force should come from the legs, not the arms. Engage your upper body to direct the bar upward only after your legs have fully extended.


The clean pull is a highly beneficial exercise that can significantly enhance your powerlifting program and overall weightlifting performance. By avoiding common mistakes such as incorrect starting positions, jolting the barbell, and lifting too heavy too soon, you can ensure that you perform the clean pull with proper technique and maximize its benefits.

The clean pull offers three key advantages: increased explosive power, the ability to lift heavier weights than standard cleans, and improved performance during complex Olympic weightlifting exercises. It effectively engages multiple muscle groups, including the quads, glutes, and core, making it a valuable addition to any strength and conditioning routine.

To optimize the clean pull, focus on maintaining tension throughout the movement, driving from the full foot, and performing the three pulls smoothly and explosively. By understanding that the clean pull is not a deadlift but a unique exercise that requires coordinated leg and upper body action, you can harness its full potential.

With practice and attention to detail, you can master the clean pull, taking advantage of its explosive strength benefits to excel in various athletic activities, from sprinting to sport games. Remember, proper technique and patience are key to unlocking the full advantages of the clean pull, leading to improved power development, force production, and overall athletic performance.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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